Archive of 63 original photographs relating to Southern California Midget Auto Racing and African American driver Rajo Jack

N.p. N.p., 1937-1938. Archive of 63 vintage vernacular and professional photographs, along with a number of newspaper and program clippings, all relating to midget auto racing in Southern California, circa 1937-1938. All materials housed in a string-bound scrapbook, with captions in holograph ink adjacent to most photographs.

Of particular note in the archive are five photographs of African American “outlaw” racer Rajo Jack, the first driver to integrate into the all-white sport—nearly two decades before Jackie Robinson broke the “color barrier" in Major League baseball in 1947.

Born Dewey Gatson in 1905, Jack would never have been able to compete on a national level in the American Automobile Association (AAA) due to his race, so he instead competed in the American Racing Association (ARA), the largest racing body to allow him to compete—making him an "outlaw" racer in the eyes of the AAA, and largely restricting him to West Coast racing. A continual target of discrimination, Jack would frequently claim to be of Native American or Portuguese heritage in order to race, although he was largely welcomed by his fellow drivers out of respect for his talent. These supporters would frequently band together to insist on Jack receiving equal service at segregated restaurants and motels. Jack won races up and down the West Coast in stock cars, midgets, big cars, and motorcycles, and in 2003 was inducted into the West Coast Stock Car Hall of Fame, and the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame in 2007.

Archive also includes content relating to drivers Fred Frame and the Robson brothers, as well as the Oakland Speedway and the Southern Ascot Speedway. Other noted drivers in the collection include Travis 'Spider' Webb, Tex Petersen (including one photograph signed by Petersen), Einer 'Swede' Lindskog, Harry Lester, Morris 'Slim' Mathis, Hal Robson, and Harry Secrest.

An impressive and extensive archive of photographs of the South California midget auto racing scene of the 1930s, with a rare substantial grouping of photographs of Rajo Jack at the height of his career.

Scrapbook measuring 12.25 x 13.5 inches. Very Good, with most leaves brittle and separated from binding. Photographs generally 5 x 3.25 inches, with one as small as 1.25 x 1.5 inches, and several as large as 5 x 3.25 inches. Very Good plus to Near Fine.


[Book #155078]